The Gap Between Stitches


My daughter is teaching herself to knit.

Her college friends mock her: It's a rocking-chair hobby, they tell her. An old-lady hobby. Still, she persists.

She frowns over her work, each hand tightly clutching a gold needle, a multi-colored scarf slowly taking shape between them. I watch her take up the yarn and incorporate it into the scarf. I listen to the clacking of the needles in the perfect stillness of the house. Listening, I am reminded of my mother and my grandmother and the work that has come from their needles: scarfs and hats; dishcloths and blankets and the long-outgrown sweaters that I keep in my trunk for my children's children.

My daughter sighs. The clacking stops. She holds up the scarf revealing another dropped stitch. “I hate knitting.” The comfortable quiet is replaced with frustration. “Should I tear it all out?”

“No,” I tell her. “Just keep going.”

“Then the problem will just continue,” she says, taking up her needles again.


Perhaps. But dropped stitches can be corrected. And, as she makes the same mistake over and over again, she will see what is happening and learn how to correct it.

Knitting is a reflection of our lives, lives created with our own hands; lives created with intention and purpose. You cannot tear out the mistakes of your life, pulling apart the intricate threads to correct a misstep. You can only move on, looking at the gap between stitches and knowing that this was a place of learning and growth.

As my daughter knits, she will learn to pick up dropped stitches. She will increase in speed and confidence. She will try new patterns and combine new and interesting yarns, weaving her life experiences into her work.

Knitting allows her to create something useful and valuable, and, yes, even with the dropped stitches, a thing of beauty. Knitting teaches her to produce something of value on her own.

And if that's an old-lady hobby, well then, pass me my rocker.





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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: The Gap Between Stitches

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Gap Between Stitches


My daughter is teaching herself to knit.

Her college friends mock her: It's a rocking-chair hobby, they tell her. An old-lady hobby. Still, she persists.

She frowns over her work, each hand tightly clutching a gold needle, a multi-colored scarf slowly taking shape between them. I watch her take up the yarn and incorporate it into the scarf. I listen to the clacking of the needles in the perfect stillness of the house. Listening, I am reminded of my mother and my grandmother and the work that has come from their needles: scarfs and hats; dishcloths and blankets and the long-outgrown sweaters that I keep in my trunk for my children's children.

My daughter sighs. The clacking stops. She holds up the scarf revealing another dropped stitch. “I hate knitting.” The comfortable quiet is replaced with frustration. “Should I tear it all out?”

“No,” I tell her. “Just keep going.”

“Then the problem will just continue,” she says, taking up her needles again.


Perhaps. But dropped stitches can be corrected. And, as she makes the same mistake over and over again, she will see what is happening and learn how to correct it.

Knitting is a reflection of our lives, lives created with our own hands; lives created with intention and purpose. You cannot tear out the mistakes of your life, pulling apart the intricate threads to correct a misstep. You can only move on, looking at the gap between stitches and knowing that this was a place of learning and growth.

As my daughter knits, she will learn to pick up dropped stitches. She will increase in speed and confidence. She will try new patterns and combine new and interesting yarns, weaving her life experiences into her work.

Knitting allows her to create something useful and valuable, and, yes, even with the dropped stitches, a thing of beauty. Knitting teaches her to produce something of value on her own.

And if that's an old-lady hobby, well then, pass me my rocker.





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9 Comments:

At January 25, 2013 at 7:21 AM , Blogger Sandra Tyler said...

Lovely post. And sad that her friends feel that way; way back when, 20 odd yars ago, my college friends and I had a knitting group. Though this many yars later I still haven't finished the vest. For my then boyfriend with whom eventually I did break up

 
At January 26, 2013 at 5:49 AM , Anonymous Abby said...

This was so beautifully written. Whether it's knitting, writing, gardening, etc. it really doesn't matter what someone thinks of your hobby. If it makes you feel useful, centered, productive or gives you something to work toward, it is serving it's purpose. We all have our "knitting," and those who don't are simply afraid to make a mistake, to learn something new and to explore something they just might love.

 
At January 26, 2013 at 7:32 AM , Blogger Wisper said...

What a great piece - and a great way of looking at life! I think it's great more people of all ages are learning things like knitting. Otherwise, the art will die out and that, I think, would be a sad day.

 
At January 26, 2013 at 8:33 AM , Anonymous steph said...

This was not only a beautiful metaphor for life itself, but it made me want to take up knitting. I recently discovered a couple of the young women in my yoga class knit. I was surprised but delighted that it has not disappeared. I'm glad your daughter does not let her college friends deter her. Lovely post!

 
At January 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM , Blogger Michael A. Walker said...

This is one of those dying arts, like quilt making, and general sewing. I'm thankful that our Grandmother is still alive and able to pass on these skills/traditions to our daughter. And your metaphor was not lost on me. Nice work!

 
At January 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM , Blogger Writerly Wanna Be said...

Oh how I have missed reading your writing. Right from the heart. So real, so meaningful. Beautiful.

 
At January 26, 2013 at 12:24 PM , Blogger j umbaugh said...

A really well written piece with a subtle and great message built in, and all tied together.

 
At January 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM , Blogger Kirra Antrobus said...

I thought knitting was coming back. Either way, I'm glad she's trying it. And I love your analogy. Thank you.

 
At September 13, 2013 at 8:14 AM , Blogger Dorothy Scott said...

I think knitting is making a comeback.I have a very young niece fresh out of college. She is an elementary school teacher and has knitted some beautiful pieces. I am so very proud of her and wish we lived closer so we could visit and knit together. I discovered knitting at an extremely stressful time in my life and am still very thankful to the kind friend who so very patiently taught me. It it an amazingly calming and fulfilling hobby. Thank you so much for sharing and please continue to encourage your daughter. I think she has picked a marvelous hobby (as obviously do the others responding to this wonderful column!).

 

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